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Pimp My Trademark with Swag Infringement

5 October 2011 No Comment


Usually products have promotional vehicles to publicize their brand, (i.e.Red Bull car) however there is a craze in the hip hop culture of automobile branding. I came across this craze through a discussion in an automobile forum and someone asked whether it was illegal to paint your car with a trademark on it. The federal law that protects trademarks, Lanham Act, states that these hip hop cars could be infringing on the trademarks when they “use the mark in commerce in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution or ADVERTISING of goods or services.” The term commerce means placing the trademark on goods or their containers, tags or labels, or on displays associated with them, and then selling or transporting the goods in commerce. In our case the goods are usually Chevrolet or Buick cruisers that various brands painted on them. (continued below)

The key to my analysis possible  infringement is successful if the defendant closely associates the trademark with goods so that it indicates itself a source for consumers. So if the gentleman driving the Skittles car was actually selling candy that looked like skittles that would be a slam dunk. Here we simply have people styling their cars after pop-culture items like candy, cereal, websites and drinks in order to demonstrate their love for the item. The owner of the car is not offering the good for sale, nor is he or she in the business or producing the goods that is displayed on the vehicle. There may be instances where the owner may earn compensation from his use of the trademark by winning car show competitions or by increasing its retail value but these or only incidental.




 



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